Monday, May 31, 2010

The Ashinator Remembers Her Papi

GunDiva's note:  This is an assignment that Ashinator had to turn in for one of her classes; I think it's a lovely tribute to her great-grandfather, who was without a doubt the patriarch of our family.  He's sorely missed, even if he was a cranky ole curmudgeon.  He loved us all with all of his heart and we loved him.

Moses Arthur G., born January 1st 1914 died February 20th 2001. He was married to Mary Tilia G.; they had three children, six grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. He was a train conductor and a World War II veteran. He was my Papi and my best friend. He taught me how to treat people, how to laugh whole-heartedly, and how to make sunny-side up eggs. Of all the things my grandfather taught me though, perhaps the most important was how to mourn. All of this made him a hero. A success of the American Dream.

I said goodbye to my Papi for the last time on a Tuesday night, February 20th. I didn’t know that at the time of course. I thought I’d see him in the morning when my mom dropped us off before school. I had thought wrong. He had a stroke, hours after I left, my grandma called her son, Russ, in a panic. Russ got there in time for my Papi to die in his arms. The next morning, my mom let us sleep in and when we woke up she told us to go watch TV in a shaky voice. She called us to her room, one by one, Digger went first. He came back and sat down next to me, never saying a word, I looked to his eyes. The light in them had dulled, and they were full of tears. I had never seen my brother cry, he was always so strong. My mom called me next. I lay next to her on her bed, she took a few moments to play with my hair, and the she said it. “Papa had a stroke sweetie. He’s dead.” I wanted to cry and scream, but I had no tears or voice. All I could do was lay there, mute. I could hear my mom sobbing next to me, but I didn’t look. I laid there for ages, listening to my mother come undone. I got up without a word and walked back to Blue’s Clues. Monster was called to her, he came back moments later, crying and shaking. Both of my brothers were crying, and I wasn’t. I tried to force myself to but I couldn’t. The ache in my chest was deep and throbbing. I couldn’t cry away the pain, I wished I could. My mom got us dressed and we went to my grandparent’s house. It was full of people, some I knew and some I didn’t. I didn’t believe that he was dead, that he was gone. When we got to the house I went straight back to my grandparent’s room, I knew in my 8 year old heart that my grandpa was there. Lying in bed, he was probably still asleep. I counted silently in my head, down from five, and pushed the door open. He wasn’t there. I looked under the bed, in the closet, even the dresser. My Papi was gone; I fell to the floor and sobbed. I sat up, crying, I could hear somebody behind me, hear them breathing. I was scared to look; I thought I would be in trouble. I waited for the person to leave, but it didn’t. I looked over my shoulder, finally. I saw my grandma standing there. She came and sat next to me; I rested my head in her lap and cried.

His funeral was the following Monday, February 26th. It was an open casket service, but I refused to look. I didn’t want to remember him that way. It was a normal funeral, except for the number of people. You could tell that my grandfather was a great man just by the number of mourners at his service. He was their hero too. At the burial service, it was family only, the Army fired 21 shots, my Papi was at Pearl Harbor. When he signed up he was just a medic, but when Japan attacked they bumped him up to surgical nurse. It’s for that that my grandfather was honorably discharged after the attack. My grandpa told me they let him out because no man should ever see what he saw, and no man should have to watch his fellow troops die that way. Whether that’s true or not, I’ll never know, but my grandpa wasn’t one for lying. There was an American flag across the top of his casket, when all the speeches were done the soldiers folded the flag so smoothly and gracefully into the most perfect petite triangle. They handed the folded flag to my grandma. My grandmother hadn’t cried all day, but she cried then. That’s when she knew, that’s when I watched her realize that he was really gone forever. That was the moment it hit me too. My grandmother is the strongest woman I know. Seeing her cry terrified me.

I was depressed and distraught. That was what I knew of death. Death is made out to be a sad, horrible thing. I honestly didn’t know how to react. I knew to be sad, but the sadness didn’t hit me until the soldiers folded that flag. I wouldn’t eat, I wanted to but something inside me just wouldn’t allow it, so my parents had to force feed me for weeks. I was so upset; I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to do anything. I was out of school for three weeks and the day I went back my teacher told me I had to write a report about my grandfather’s death/funeral and read it to the class. I was shocked that any adult would ask a mourning child to do something like that. I don’t care what motives she had behind the assignment, what she was asking of me was unfair and cruel. So, I kicked her and left. I was out for another week. The loss of my Papa taught me that you can’t mourn forever and you have to let go of the pain at some point. I learned that it’s okay to remember as long as you can let go. For that reason, when I got my first tattoo I made sure that my Grandpa’s initials were incorporated in it. He helped shape who I am as a person, and I know that where ever he is now he’s watching me and taking care of me. I know that where ever he is he’s happy.

My lesson ends on March 17th 2010, at seven o’clock when I looked in the mirror at the finished product of my first tattoo. That was the day I fully let go of my grandpa’s death. It was the day I accepted it. With his and my grandmother’s initials forever on my arm I know that he’s with me all the time. Recently, I was watching a show where a man got a tattoo as a tribute to his cousin who had died a few weeks earlier explaining that now he can “rest in peace”. I had someone come up to me and tell me it was great that I did this for my grandfather. But, I didn’t do this for him; I did it for me, so that I could be peaceful and accept his death. Some might call this selfish, but I don’t care. It took me nine years to recover from his death and I accepted it in my own way and I remember in my own way. I know I’m so lucky to still have my grandmother with me and I will never take her for granted. Because I know now, what the pain will feel like, it may even be worse. Time will tell. I think about my grandpa everyday, but now when I think about him I don’t feel sad. I feel thankful to have such a hero present in my life, even for a short period of time. Moses Arthur G., born January 1st, 1914 died February 20th, 2001.

Monday Minute - Memorial Day Edition

1 - Have you or a family member joined the military?
My father, uncle and grandfather served in the Army (two different wars), my brother served in the Marines.

2 - Have you or a family member served his/her country in times of war?
See above comments.  My grandfather was a surgical nurse during the attack on Pearl Harbor; my dad and uncle served in VietNam.

3 - What's your favorite BBQ food?
I used to hate BBQ, but it's growing on me.  I've become a fan of pulled pork (as long as RCC's the one making it).

I just realized that I've been married to a chef for too long; when I read the question my brain went immediately to style of cooking rather than the event itself.

If we're having a BBQ event - my grandmother's potato salad.  Yummmm.

4 - Do you fart in public?
Why do you think I had kids?  If I didn't, who would I blame it on?

5 - What's the one question that if it shows up on a Monday Minute, you refuse to take part?
Don't know - try me.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Order from CSN Stores

Before I get to the CSN Store order - I want to wish Not A GunDiva a happy birthday.  She and I may be polar opposites in some ways, but I think I'll finally quit asking Mom to take her back to the hospital.  Happy birthday - hope you have a great day.  Love you.

I finally decided what I was going to order from CSN Stores to review.  When we brought Dashurie home, Ash had talked about wanting a carrier for her so that Dash can go where Ash goes.  We couldn't find a carrier we liked, so whenever Dash wanted to go somewhere, we had to borrow Scamp's cat carrier.  Well, wouldn't you know that when I looked in the pet section of CSN, I found a carrier that I think will be perfect for Dashurie.
Isn't it cute?  My only issue is that this is the only view offered; I would have liked to see what the inside looks like and see about the venting - I can't have my grand-hedgehog suffocating now, can I?

It's scheduled to ship to me sometime next week (holiday weekends always mess up shipping) and I expect that it will be here the following week.  I'll be sure to post pics of Dash in her new carrier and Scamp will be relieved to have his back.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Introducing Eloise

However, I LOVE the gift he got me, so I got over being a loser pretty quickly.  He brought Eloise into my life and I lurve her very much. 

I swore I would never give up "real" books - and I won't.  In fact, I've got another on the way that I promised to review in June.  So, no, real books are safe in my house, but they may become a little...neglected.

I initially coveted the Kindle (c) (<---I don't know how to make the little copywrite sign) and kept telling RCC and the kids that I wanted one for traveling.  It doesn't matter how many books I pack to travel with, I always finish my book with twenty minutes before boarding and then I have to run to the airport bookstore and pay bookstore prices.  I hate that!

I'd not heard much about the nook(c) and had no clue what it could do.  RCC initially went into B&N to get me a book for our anniversary, but started talking to the nook guy and ended up buying me Eloise.  I really, really lurve her.  He done good.  She's super easy to read and buying books is even easier (as long as you have a B&N account).  What I really love is that I can prop her up in bed (I'm a stomach reader), plop my chin down on my hands and read away.  When I need to turn the page, I just swipe my finger across the touch screen and voila! the page turns.

I can also sideload music from my iTunes(c) library, so I can listen to music as I read.  There are also more than 900K free books to choose from.  This takes some patience, as some of the books are self-pubbed crap, but there are also some excellent books in the "free" store.

My only two complaints about Eloise: 1) her battery life and 2) she's kinda nekkid and exposed without protection.  I could solve complaint #2 and did.  I bought her some nice red leather clothes, which she looks stunning in.

Now, complaint #1:  " avid reader should be able to read 7 - 10 days on a single charge".  I've had Eloise in my life for two weeks now and have had to fully charge her three times.  It seems that "avid" reader is a few steps below my "voracious" level.  The best I've gotten out of Eloise is about four days.  That doesn't really worry me, but it is an inconvenience.  RCC said that the guy at B&N did tell him that there were ways to increase the battery life, so I'll be stopping in there sometime soon.

One more thing I love about Eloise - there are B&N stores everywhere, so if anything goes wrong, I can just take her into the store. 

And the store...they're doing a 5-week promo, where I can download a book a week from a bestselling author.  I just have to go into the store, show them Eloise and pick up my coupon.  Actually, any one can participate, whether they've got a nook or not.  You can go to Barnes and Noble's website and download their free e-reader, which then qualifies you for the ebook promo.  And, no, I'm not being paid for this - I just love it so much, I had to share it with everyone (including the ER nurse while RCC was dying from epiploic appendagitis).

BUT...RCC's not the only one who can buy good gifts.  Check out what I got him for his birthday (they were back-ordered and took forever to come in)...

No, it's not the Jeep, but the new tube doors and mirrors. He's pretty excited about them, but hasn't been able to drive his Lil' Blue Box due the the narcotic pain meds he's on, so he's had to admire them from the couch. We have to go to the store later, so maybe he'll get to ride in Lil' Blue Box with her sexy new doors while I drive.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Adventures of Ashinator (and CJ too!)

CJ - "87...Thousand people have worn your shirt."
^^Reffering to my aeropostale 87 hoodie.
What a weirdo.

Well, I didn't right a post last Friday on account of all of my boys graduating and I was a sad panda!
Jearbear, Hawk, Conman, and Erm. Are done with high school. And I'm still stuck there.
Oh well, one more year, and I'm a senior now.

CJ you say something now!
Wellll, even if I only became friends with those cool quacks a week or so before they graduated,
I'm a pretty sad panda too!
But senior year will be just as good as this last year because we'll both have cars!

They are cool quacks, but only Conman is actually leaving...and he's only going to be a few hours away.

On a lighter note.
AND! CJ and I just made delicious brownies! Yumyum!
Gosh I don't know what to say, poor Tupac, he should just come back already.
Johnny Cash too, only he's really dead. Poor Johnny.
"When I was arrested I was dressed in black..."

Oh! I'm going swimming today! First swim of the summer!
Also, I decided I'm going to get my nose double pierced and put another hoop in.
Pretty cute, right?
Don't answer that. It sounds weird but it's gonna look good.
I promise!

I'm going to eat a brownie now,
have a good day.


Oh- I have some things to add.
GunDiva in: These all came from an actual conversation we had at Monster's birthday dinner.  Welcome to the chaos that is our life.

1. I'm too fat to be a model. Too short as well. I would have to cut off my boobs and stretch them like play-doh into leg extentions.

2. I could, however, make lots of tips if I worked at a place that showed off my...chesticle region. HAHAHAHAH.

3. Not Hooters though, because, while I am blessed in the chesticle department those girls would make me look like a pre-pubescent 12 year. And that's just no good.

Goodbye for realsies.

I've Hit The Big Time!

I thought I'd hit the big time when I gained more followers than family members.

Then, I thought I'd hit the big time when I was asked to review a book.

But now, I've really, really hit the big time.  I was asked by CSN Stores to do a give-away.  I declined the give-away, simply because I don't want to promote a company I can't vouch for.  I asked, instead, to do a review of their products with the potential for a give-away in the future (just looking out for y'all).

I hate, hate shopping, so I admit I dragged my feet a litle bit going over to their website.  However, once I got there, I loved it.  They've pretty much got something for everyone (except horses - sorry, I tried).  I spent an hour browsing their site.  Ask my family, they'll tell you what a feat that is.  They've got a lot: furniture, home decor (including track lighting, which I'm so going to put in my dream house; I've always loved the versatility of it and the ability to spotlight certain areas of the room), housewares, home improvement, pets, outdoor, etc., etc.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna hop on over there again and see how many other ways I can blow my paycheck.  Once I've found something out of the kagillion items they have to offer, I'll put my review up here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Epiploic Appendagitis Sucks

Say what?

Epiploic appendages (or appendices) are fat pouches from the peritoneum (the sac lining the abdominal cavity) that are just a few centimeters long and are are commonly found along the transverse and sigmoid colon.  I vaguely remember learning about them in anatomy a million years ago in college.  They weren't important, so I put them out of my mind.

Fast forward from college anatomy to last night.  RCC's been complaining of left lower quadrant pain since Sunday.  He'd been working on his Jeep Saturday and there is *nothing* in the left lower quadrant of males other than intestines, so we both chalked up his pain to a pulled abdominal muscle. 

By Tuesday morning, his pain had increased to a 7 out of 10 (10 being "please put a bullet in my brain" pain), but he went to work anyway and I told him we'd go to the doctor when he got home from work.

He pulled into the college about 3pm yesterday, pale as a ghost.  It was easy to tell that his pain had gotten much worse.  So much worse that he didn't argue with me about going to Urgent Care.  By this time, I'm thinking hernia, but the pain was totally and completely in the wrong area for a hernia.  His pain was more where an ovary in a female would be, and that's no where near a typical hernia site.

They got us in quickly at Urgent Care; the doc took one look at him, poked and prodded around and immediately sent us to the ER for blood work and a CT scan.  She was thinking that maybe RCC had diverticulitis, despite his age.  Diverticulitis is more commonly seen in older patients, not young 'uns in their mid-30s.

So, off to the ER we went, paperwork in hand.  They processed us fairly quickly and the Physician Assistant came in to see us.  She poked and prodded around on RCC, quickly raising his pain level with her manipulations.  She tried to hide it, but she was perplexed, too.  Left lower quadrant pain in a male that *probably* wasn't a hernia or diverticulitis. 

RCC's pain, despite IV Morphine Sulfate, was hovering around a 4 while he was laying down (unless I was making him laugh - I tell you, I was one witty beast last night, but now can't remember anything I said).

Side note:  I have to tell you, I wasn't happy with someone else messing around with "my" boys.  I've been in medicine a long time and I understand how to check for an inguinal hernia, but that didn't mean I liked it one bit that another woman was telling my hubby to drop his drawers and doing the ole turn-and-cough routine.  When she left and I told RCC that, he burst out laughing and crying.  Laughing because I didn't like it and crying because laughing jumped his pain to a 10.

Even after the hernia check was negative, she was still concerned about it.  Abdominal wall hernias aren't unheard of, after all.  His symptoms matched both an abdominal hernia and diverticulitis.  Off to CT we went.
I've sent lots of patients to CT; have scheduled them, done the allergy checklist, have peeked over my doc's shoulder to look at them, but I've never actually seen a CT being done.  That is some cool-ass shit.  It's like Star Trek medicine and didn't take hardly any time at all.

Back to the room we went to await the CT results.

Side note #2:  I love my Nook.  I took it along to the hospital with me and the three hours or so we spent there just flew by.  I may be doing a review of my Nook (codename: Eloise) soon.

When the PA came back with the diagnosis, it was obvious that she had to look it up, too.  Epiploic Appendagitis.  Inflammation of an epiploic appendage.  Presents just like diverticulitis (well, no duh), but without the infection and the outpouching of the colon wall.

Great.  We know what is is now, what do we do about it?


Tincture of time and Vicodin for pain.

Should resolve on its own.

Good and bad news.  Good news: no scalpel, no surgery.  Bad news: tincture of time sucks.

So does epiploic appendagitis.

Side note #3:  I completely understand why PVHS has won so many awards in recent years.  The care was awesome.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Minute - *snort* Edition

1 - Do you *snort*?
Snort what?
2 - Our friend, has a nickname and it's Daffy.  What's your nickname?
3 - Do you know sign language?
Yup.  Better with SEE (Signing Exact English) than ASL (American Sign Language), but passable with both.
4 - What's a sample convo from your hood?
Student to new instructor:  "But I didn't sign on for homework!"

Different student to another new instructor:  "You treated me like a college student.  I didn't like it."
5-  Do you sleep with electronic devices - i.e. laptop, Blackberry, iPhone, etc?
Sometimes.  When I remember, I take my phone up to bed.  I sometimes regret it when I do, though, because I've forwarded my email to it and some of my followers are either very early risers or live in time zones from the other side of the world :)

And, Eloise, my new Nook sleeps on the shelf next to my bed.  She takes up a lot less space than the stacks of books that are generally perched precariously there.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Monster!

I can't believe it's been fifteen years since you were born.  I distinctly remember the day I realized I was pregnant with you; and once I did the calculations for your due date, realized that you were due two weeks after finals my freshman year of college.

The past fifteen years have been filled with laughter and tears, but I wouldn't trade it (or you) for the world.

I love you, kid. 

Always will.

Happy Birthday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Graduation Day

This is what my mom looks like most of the time...

This is what my mom looked like tonight...

Congrats Mom!

Hop on over to It's A Horse Life and show her some bloggy love.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Today's the day!  We're kicking off Mission Monkey!  Ian from The Daily Dose of Reality has worked his butt of organizing this most excellent donation/raffle and I am in awe of his organizational skills.  All over the blogosphere, bloggers are banding together to help out Michelle and Monkey.

In addition to a small monetary donation, I'm donating two books from a local Colorado author to the raffle. 

What is Mission Monkey you ask?  Well, there's this blogger friend of ours known as Pixie Momma, aka Michelle.  Michelle has a little girl, or Monkey as she's known by, who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma.  To learn more about it, click here. Monkey is a sweet little 16 month old girl.  She doesn't deserve this.  Nobody deserves this.

But the good news is that Monkey only has Stage 1 (low risk).  The bad news is the medical bills are mounting and the Physical Therapy (starts today) isn't covered by insurance.  Michelle is using the donated money to offset medical bills.  She will donate and unused portion to another family dealing with the same issue.

This is why the blogging universe is banning together like never before to rally around Michelle and Monkey to provide support.  In addition to further entice you to lend your hand, and donate to the cause, we have over 50 items that have been donated.  Many bloggers are hosting these fabulous giveaways and all you need to win one of these items is just one raffle ticket.

Donation pages:
Princess of Sarcasm -
The One and Only Oka -
SupahMommy -
Jenn B Says #1 -
Jenn B Says #2 -
Amber -
Two Little Monkeys -
Mommy's Nest -
Chief's Hiding From the Kids -
Jenny -
Jana -

You may donate any amount of money via PayPal as it's linked directly to Michelle's bank account.  However, in order to be a part of the raffle, this is how that's going to go.  If you donate the following, you get the subsequent number of entries:
  • $10 - 2 entries
  • $20 - 5 entries
  • $30 - 10 entries
  • $40 - 15 entries
  • $50 - 20 entries
  • $75 - 35 entries
  • $100 - 50 entries
  • $200 - 125 entries
 The raffles for each item will start on or around July 1st.

Click on monkey to donate!

If you are donating money via PayPal, I need to know who it's coming from.  For example, look at the first picture below.  The link takes to you this screen.  Press the plus sign and then indicate your blog name/blog email address so I can track you accordingly.

I've just donated $20 (I told you it was a small amount) to Mission Monkey and now I'm throwing out a challenge...if each of my followers donates just $10 this weekend, we'll be over 1/3 of the way to Ian's goal of $1,500 by Sunday.  So, please forgo the Starbucks next week and spend your coffee budget on Monkey and her family.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's A Small, Small World

When RockCrawlinChef and I were looking for places to stay outside of Yellowstone, he suggested a B&B.  Heck, why not?  It would be kind of fun to see one other than Mom and Bill's, so he found Yellowstone Suites in Gardiner, MT.

I told Mom that we were going to be staying in a B&B in Gardiner and she said, "Really? I helped set up a B&B up there five years ago or so," then she proceeded to tell me that one of her guests had talked to her about wanting to open a B&B and that they'd emailed back and forth for a year or so before the other lady bought her place.  Mom couldn't remember her name, after all, it had been five years or more, so I sent her the link to Yellowstone Suite's website and had her look at it.

A day or so later, after looking at the website, Mom said, "no, that's not the one," so I kind of shrugged it off.

When we got to the B&B, our hosts Julie (human) and Dancer (canine) welcomed us and showed us to our room, The Moran Room.  On the way up to our room, we noticed chocolate chip cookies on the table in the common area, but didn't snag any.

The next morning, we joined the other guests for our continental breakfast and Julie was telling us about the time a Grizzly was in her front yard.  I asked her how she managed to keep them out of the garbage.  I mentioned that my parents, who own a B&B, electrify their dumpster with a car battery.  She asked which B&B and when I told her, she pretty much repeated Mom's story word-for-word about visiting the Lodge and asking a million questions.

After we made the connection, both RCC and I realized that there were many similarities we should have picked up on them right away:
  1. The canine host (every home should have one)
  2. Naming the rooms instead of numbering them; makes the place feel more homey and less sterile
  3. Fresh chocolate chip cookies; Mom's are practically world famous
  4. The guest journal inside the room
  5. The guest information notebook inside the room; even some of the rules were similar (don't feed the dog, especially)
  6. Sitting to eat breakfast with us, family-style
In retrospect, those are all classic Allenspark Lodge touches (especially the fresh cookies daily) that I should have picked up on, but didn't because Mom had said that it wasn't the place.  When we got home and I told her that it was the place she'd helped set up, she was rather surprised because she remembered a different building.  Maybe Julie remodeled it or worked on it and it no longer looked like the one Mom remembered, who knows?

What I do know is that I would stay there again (and not just because of the similarities).  The rooms were beautiful and clean and the beds were out-of-this-world comfortable.

Adventures of Ashinator will be post-poned until Saturday, due to a special MISSION MONKEY post tomorrow.  We're starting our big donation drive to help out Monkey and her family and hope to raise $1,500 over the weekend.  Check back in on Friday for information about how to donate and get entered into the raffle.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blogfia Call Out

Daffy at Batcrap Crazy, can really use our support and prayers.  Her younger sister is facing a huge health crisis right now and has just emerged from surgery in which neurosurgeons removed a tumor from her brain and a chunk of her skull to allow her brain to swell without further damage.

Please visit Daffy, leave her some comment love and send a prayer up for her and her family.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Bill-esque Post

Tired.  As a result, you'll get a very Bill-esque post (short, sweet and to the point) from me.

Went to Yellowstone after RCC surprised me with the Nook.  It was a long drive.  Went in the Northeast Gate.  Saw bison.  Lots of bison.

Saw black bears.  Sow and two cubs...

Arrived at Yellowstone Suites, checked in, found a place to eat.  Ate.  Went to bed.  Mother Nature laughed at us.  Happy Anniversary.

Went for horseback ride at Hell's A-Roarin' Outfitters.  Big horses, good ride.  Forgot sunscreen (who needs it when it's snowing in Colorado?), got sunburned.

Drove around the park for hours.  Saw lots and lots o' stuff.

Head home.  Took us three hours to drive fifty miles out of the park...lots of cool stuff to see and do.

Drove for hours.  And hours.

Stopped in Casper, WY to have dinner with one of RCC's childhood friends.  Was a good time.

Finally made it home and to bed.

It was an excellent trip; certainly much better than my first trip to Yellowstone.  A better post will be forthcoming, I promise.


Well, Rachel and Mr. Daddy didn't kick me off of their blog for the vasectomy TST, so I'm back!
Be sure to hook up with them to share your own TSTs.

RockCrawlinChef and I celebrated our first anniversary on Friday.  I screwed up big time.  You see, months ago, when we were talking about our anniversary, we'd decided to get his and her AR-15s.  We haven't quite gotten around to it, but it's been on the radar, so I didn't plan on getting RCC a gift.  My bad.

When we got up Friday morning, RCC surprised me with not one, but two, anniversary cards.  One smart-ass one and one sappy one.  What did GunDiva get RCC?  No cards.  Fail #1.

While I was reading the cards and feeling like a total ass for not getting him at least a card, he hands me a gift.  But not just a gift.  No, it couldn't be something small.  Nooooooooo.  You see, I've been coveting an e-reader something fierce.  I'd looked at the Kindle and the Nook, but just couldn't part with the money.  What does RCC get me?  A damn Nook!

What gift did GunDiva get RCC?  Nothing, that's what!  Fail #2.  I was thinking that, you know, the his and hers ARs would be our anniversary gifts to each other. 

I know, you men are thinking that, hey, it's okay, it's their anniversary, RCC's at least going to get lucky, right?  Funny thing...Mother Nature had a whole different idea about that.  Fail #3.

When I broke the news to RCC, he looked at me and said, "I buy you a Nook and I don't even get any nookie?"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Adventures of Ashinator: Home Alone(ish) Edition

RockCrawlinChef and I are off to Yellowstone for the weekend for a little anniversary get-away.  So I leave you in the scary terrifying omygodIcan'tbelieveI'mdoingthis capable hands of the Ashinator.

My parent's are gone, Dig and I are breakin' out the hookers.
He's here to babysit, but he'll wreak more havoc then I will.

I've got dramaaa news!
My friend, MollyManiac, decided she has a thing for CJ. It would be fine if she just liked him and didn't act on the feeling, but...she's acting on the feeling.
Like yesterday, she bought him cookies. What the hell?? I don't even buy him cookies. Because, as his girlfriend of ten months I know that he doesn't like that particular kind of cookies. GRR. I may have to kill her. I seriously considered shoving the damn cookies up her ass, but CJ told me that probably wasn't the best solution.

Also, I got my ACT scores yesterday, got a 19. ):
Not bad I guess, one point above average.
Math killed me.
Damn you math.

Man, I don't remember what I said that was funny this week, I just say SOOO much funny stuff.
Oh, I'm watching Forrest Gump in history...that's probably the most exciting thing to happen to me this week.

I guess quitting my new job after only an hour qualifies too.
Decided being a telemarketer and sitting at a computer screen (that was older than I am) for seven hours being hung up on the whole time wasn't really my thing. Imagine that?



GunDiva in: So...someone set up a FB fan page for the Great Goldfish Adventure...become a fan of "Putting goldfish in the toilet for the hell of it".

Pick Up Day

I tried to do this in pictures, but Blogger was pissin' me off, so you get a slideshow instead.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Calling the Blogfia: MISSION MONKEY is here.

Ian at The Daily Dose of Reality is the mastermind behind MISSION MONKEY.  Monkey is the 16 month old daughter of Michelle from Momma's Pixie Dreams, who has just been diagnosed with neuroblastoma.  Ian has taken this mission to heart and has organized an on-line raffle and donation drive to help off-set the costs that treatment will incur.

I will be donating two books to the raffle written by a Colorado author and a guest blog.  I don't have a lot to donate and I know that money's tight for a lot of people, but if you have something to donate or even $10 to spare, you can donate AND be entered into the raffle.

Hop on over to Ian's blog for all of the details for the raffle or you can donate by clicking on the Mission Monkey button on my sidebar, which will link you directly to Michelle's paypal.

I'm Still Alive

Didja miss me?

Nope, probably not, 'cause I did manage to get a few post scheduled.  The IT God is saying I'll have my computer back today sometime, so I'll be back online posting furiously tomorrow or Thursday.

In the meantime, I had a fabulous Mother's Day on Sunday (pics to follow soon) and a great sort-of vacation.  I was supposed to have the week off, but one of my instructors wasn't able to teach at the last minute, so I'm teaching day and night on Tuesdays and Thursdays, completely blowing my "vacation" week.  I'm trying hard not to be bitter about it, but not really succeeding.  The only thing keeping me from being really horrible and bitter about it is that the weather is lousy and I wouldn't be able to ride today anyway.

Got my little girl home to the Lodge and settled in just in time for this Winter Storm that's supposed to dump between 12-24" of snow on the ground sometime tonight.  We had quite an adventure getting the horses up to the lodge, then had to fix fences before we could turn them out.  Pics for that to follow as well.

Now, despite being vacation-ish time.  I'm exhausted and have a headache that won't stop, so I'm off to take a nap before my next class at 6:00.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monkey's Monday Minute


Ian at The Daily Dose of Reality asked several of us bloggers to join in on this extra special edition of the Monday Minute.  Michelle, one of our blogging buddies over at My Pixie Dreams, just received news that no parent should have to hear - her 16 month old baby, Monkey, has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
1.  How old do you act?
I've been thinking about this one for a couple of days.  I think I act old, or at least older than I am.  I don't mean to act old; it's just that I sometimes feel like I've got the weight of the world on my shoulders, even though I don't.  I think was born old.

2.  As far back as you can remember, what did you want to be when you grew up?
That's easy.  Firefighter, just like my daddy.  Guess what I'm not?

3.  If you were to write a book based on your life, what would the title be?
WHICH END IS UP?  I feel like I've spent my life trying to follow the bubbles to the surface.

4.  What's something you do that's considered "childish" by most?
Remember question #1, where I've always acted old?  I don't know that there's a lot that I do that's considered childish, but I do sometimes get all "cutesy" with RCC.  It makes me sick and I can't believe that it's me doing it.

5.  Write a story of a time when you or someone you know overcame great adversity. (Warning, very long story.)

Once upon a time a child called Digger was born.  Digger's daddy, granddaddy, aunt, great aunt and cousin all have a horrible inherited channelopathy called Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis (HypoKPP).  HypoKPP causes paralysis, either partial or complete, due to a lack of intracellular potassium.  Sometimes the attacks last a few hours, sometimes a few days.  And sometimes, it requires hospitalization and a ventilator if the respiratory muscles are affected.  In addition to not being able to move, the attacks and recovery from the attacks are excruciatingly painful.

Digger's mommy was on OrthoNovum birth control pills.  The pills failed and Digger's mommy ended up pregnant.  His mommy and daddy knew that Digger had a 25% chance of exhibiting the trait, 50% chance of carrying the trait, and a 25% chance of not inheriting the disease at all.

When Digger was a toddler, he used to complain about his legs being tired.  His mommy and daddy worried that Digger was exhibiting symptoms of HypoKPP, but then, all toddlers complain of their legs being tired.  Right?

Digger outgrew toddlerhood and ran headfirst into childhood.  He never stopped moving and his complaints about tired legs went away.  His mommy and daddy breathed a sigh of relief.  By this time, Digger had a sister, Ashee-butt, and baby brother, Monster.  His parents were worried about all of them having the dreaded HypoKPP and carefully watched his siblings for signs of the disease.  

Neither Ashee-butt nor Monster exhibited any signs of the dreaded disease in toddlerhood and with Digger's symptomatic complaints gone, their parents put the disease out of their mind.

The kids' childhood, despite their parents' divorce, was fairly uneventful.  They laughed, they grew, they played all manner of sports without a problem.

Digger loved wrestling and soccer and was exceptionally good at both.  When puberty hit, that all changed.  One morning while his Uncle Deejo was visiting, Digger woke up with his first ever attack.  It was a doozy.  The poor kid woke up a quadriplegic.  His mommy's worst fears were realized.  Yes, Digger had inherited his father's horrible, horrible disease.  His mommy and Uncle Deejo loaded him into the car and took him to the doctor, who knew that there was a chance he'd have the disease.  Digger and his family spent hours in the doctor's office as they tried to raise his potassium.  Slowly, very slowly, he regained control of his body.

That first attack was the beginning of a very long, very hard road for Digger.  The onset of attacks is always sleep, so the poor kid never knew if he'd wake up a paraplegic or quadriplegic.  Nor did he know how long he'd be a para or quad.  Sometimes it would be a couple of hours, sometimes it would be a couple of days.  Thankfully, he was never hospitalized for an attack, though there was a close call one night when he complained of shortness of breath.

The number and severity of his attacks took a toll on everyone in the house.  Sometimes his mommy was very mean because  she was exhausted from working all day and then being woken up in the middle of the night to give Digger his medicine and to re-arrange him into more comfortable positions.  Sometimes his mommy blamed him for not taking care of himself and taking his medications correctly, even though she knew it wasn't really his fault.  She was just tired and angry and hurt to see her child helpless and in so much pain.  On those nights when she was mean to him, she cried herself to sleep, but never let him know.  She was always very careful to apologize to Digger, because it wasn't his fault that he had inherited his father's disease.  

His siblings were also affected; they helped out a lot when Mommy wasn't home.  When she wasn't home, it was up to them to help Digger take his medicine and move him when he needed it.  It was hard on everybody, but hardest on Digger.

He was able, with help from a Home Bound Tutor, to finish junior high, but high school proved to be too much for him.  Digger and his mommy had tapped out all of the resources available to them by the end of his sophomore year.  He tried his hardest to go to school the traditional way, but it just wasn't going to happen without accommodation.  He dropped out of school in the middle of his junior year and took his GED.

As Digger emerges from puberty, he's getting better control over his disease and sometimes goes weeks between attacks.  When he does have an attack, they are now less severe and don't last nearly as long.  

Four weeks ago, Digger took a big step.  He enrolled in college and has completed his first class.  The ability to attend class at night will help him to succeed.  Even if he has an attack in the morning, he's usually recovered by late afternoon and will be able to continue to attend night classes.

What about his sister, Ashee-butt, and his brother, Monster?  They both exhibit mild symptoms of the disease, very mild symptoms.  So mild, that they rarely, if ever, interfere with daily living.

There's no cure for HypoKPP, but there is the ability to live a normal life (once out of puberty).  And sometimes, that's the closest someone can get to a Happily Ever After.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Why My Mom's The Best Mom In The World

Well, because she had me, of course!

And because once I got divorced, I realized that she's about the smartest woman on the planet.  The woman who previously didn't know squat, suddenly knew *everything*.  Too bad it took me until I was 23 to figure it out.

She's also an amazing businesswoman (who's got a pretty good business partner, too).  If you don't believe me, just visit the lodge.

She has corrupted me, though.  When I was hemming and hawing about whether or not I could afford to buy Estes, do you know what she told me?  "A horse is cheaper than therapy."  Here I was, trying to be responsible about money and all, and she's encouraging me to buy a horse?!  Yup, that's my mom.

Jeez, I thought this list was going to be easy to write.  I was wrong!  There are just so many reasons why my mommy's better than your mommy.  I'll leave you with just one more:

She's a great trail riding partner (and she gets it when all I can talk about is my horse - the one she encouraged me to buy).

Lose It Bitch, Round Two

I'm a little late for weigh in; it was supposed to be Wednesday.  I did actually do my weigh-in and take the picture with my phone, which I then emailed to myself.  Not a problem, right?  Took two days for it to arrive in my mailbox.  I got it yesterday, but my computer's in the shop, so I had to summon the courage to borrow RCC's Mac to post my blogs.  My laptop's still at the IT God's place getting its upgrade for grad school.

Okay, done with's my weigh in picture.  Not happy about it, since it's a gain from the first LIB weigh in, but it's a process, right?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cuttin' Back

But not willingly.  The laptop's in the IT doctor's again, but for good things this time.  It's getting an upgrade in RAM in preparation for my new schoolin' so I can run a million tabs at once without slowing down.  I'll be checking in at work, but my blogging time is going to be seriously curtailed.

Please forgive me if I don't comment on your blogs or reply to comments - I'll sneak it in when I can at work.

True Story Tuesday: Scamp's Very Bad Day

Thanks again, Rachel and Mr. Daddy, for hosting.  Got a TST yourself?  Head on over and link up for a good Tuesday laugh.

Scamp's Very Bad Day

Sometimes, a good day just goes bad.  I love my mommy and my daddy.  Sometimes I like to follow Mommy around the house.  She usually doesn't mind, so I do it a lot.

Mommy took the big white bag of good smelling stuff out from under the kitchen sink.  It smelled so good, like maybe there was something in there I might want to eat.  Mostly, though, I can't get into it because she keeps the door closed and I can't get to it.  So she takes the white bag of goodness out from under the sink and I was sniffing and following, sniffing and following, sniffing and following, not paying attention to where Mommy was going.

We went down a stair and I took a break from sniffing and following and looked up.  We weren't in the house anymore!  I looked up and up and up and there was no ending, just big blue stuff way up there!  There was wet brown stuff under my paws, not soft carpet.  What?!  Where's home?  I spun around madly, looking for home.  Oh, whew, there it is!  I recognized the black thing that keeps me from going outside and just above it, a clear place where I could just jump back into my house.  It was going to be a big jump, so I settled onto my haunces and jumped as hard as I could.


I hit an invisible force field or something!  I should have been in my house and something smacked me in the face.  Hard!  I landed back on the hard white stuff, Mommy calls it cement, and shook my head.  Why couldn't I get back in the house?  What happened?  Where's Mommy?

I couldn't think, I was so scared.  I ran for the closest thing that looked like I could hide in.  It was green and pokey and there were probably spiders, but at least I had walls and a ceiling again.  This was so much worse than when I spent the night in the guh-raj 'cause I was too scared to follow Gizmo back into the house.  I think I heard Mommy and Daddy calling my name, but I was too scared to come out of the pokey green room.  Even Gizmo came out to look for me, but I just couldn't face the big blue, no walls, no ceiling place again, so I stayed put.

I don't know how long I stayed in the pokey green room, but it was a long time.  Every once in a while, Mommy or Daddy or Digger would come out and call for me.  They even rattled my favorite jar of treats, but it was too scary to leave the pokey green room.  Gizmo came and visited me a couple of times and tried to talk me into following her back into the house, but the minute I left my pokey green room, I saw the black thing and remembered that it smacked me in the head.  Hard! 

So I scurried back to the pokey green room.
Finally, I got sad about being all by myself and wanted to go back in my house, but I was so scared.  Digger held the black thing out of the way and Daddy shook my jar of treats from inside the house and Gizmo helped herd me in the house.

I was so happy to be in the house again!  I ran all around and made sure nothing had changed.  It still had walls and rooms and ceilings.  I can't tell you how relieved I was to be back home and out of the pokey green room.  I don't think I'll ever go back out there to the big blue, no walls, no ceiling place again.

I cuddled up next to Mommy on the couch and she gave me a big hug and then I heard a *snap* and felt something tight around my neck.  I tried to shake it off, but it just made an awful jingle.  The harder I tried to shake it, the louder the jingle got.  I was choking!  It wouldn't come off!  Why, Mommy?  Why would you put this chokey, jingly thing on me?

She tried to calm me down, but this was too much!  First the big blue, no walls, no ceiling place and then a chokey, jingly thing?  What did I do to deserve this?  I thought you loved me Mommy!  She tried to tell me something stupid, like it was for my own good and that if I was going to go "outside" (ah, the big blue, no walls, no ceiling place has a name) I had to have a collar (Is that what this chokey, jingly thing is?) on.  I don't like it at all!  The jingle won't stop!  I gotta get away from it!  I gotta!  So I started running and running and running; up the stairs, up on the bed, back off the bed, down the hall, down the stairs, through the eating place and the TV place and back up the stairs.  Around and around I went and I couldn't out run the chokey, jingly thing that Mommy put on my neck.  I was so tired and I had a really bad day already and this choky, jingly thing wouldn't shut up, so I kept running and running.  Finally, I just couldn't run anymore and I laid down.  Guess what?  The jingling shut up.  It was quiet.  If I didn't move, it didn't jingle.  Whew!

What an awful day.

Monday, May 3, 2010

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Blog For An Important PSA

A friend of mine, who is a coroner's investigator, and who has been in law enforcement for fifteen years or so tipped me off to this website,
Spokeo compiles all public information and makes it available via the internet.  Their slogan: "Not your grandma's phone book."  They're right; it's not your grandma's phone book - this is super scary.  Since they compile information from public sources, they have a scary amount of information out there.  You can search by name, email address, phone number, etc.  If you don't want your name out there on Spokeo, you can have it removed, which I encourage all of you to do.

To remove your information:
  • Search your name on Spokeo
  • If there are multiple people with your name, choose the correct one.  When the file opens, your personal URL will appear in the URL box at the very top of the screen.
  • Click on your URL to highlight it and then copy it (either right-mouse-click copy or Ctrl+C)
  • On the bottom of the screen, look for the word "Privacy" in small grey letters.
  • Click on "Privacy", a new window will open up.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the new window and paste your URL (either right-mouse-click paste or Ctrl+V)
  • Fill in your email address (for them to send the confirmation email)
  • Complete the word verification
  • Don't worry when the screen pops back up with a different word verification - I kept thinking that it hadn't gone through and filled it out about a million times.  It worked the first time and then I had a million confirmation emails to delete :)
  • After you've completed the steps, you can close the privacy window.
  • I then checked my email, completed the confirmation email and performed the search again on Spokeo.  I had, indeed, been removed.
  • Note:  there may be muliple "yous" in the system.  I had two, a friend of mine had three.  Search by name, phone number, email to make sure you've removed all of the "yous" from the system.  Be sure to have your children do this as well.
I have to tell you, sites like this scare the hell out of me, especially after having been stalked.  I refuse to hide forever (heck, I've got three blogs, a FB and a MySpace account), but I will do whatever I can to limit the amount of personal information that is readily available.

Verified via Snopes:

Book Review: NIGHT WATCH by Terry Pratchett

So, in return for winning a book in my Tara Janzen give-away, K. Erickson of Preachers and Horse Thieves suprised me with a couple of his favorite books.

After I slogged my way through (mostly, anyway) FINDING CHARLOTTE, I picked up NIGHT WATCH enthusiastically.  It's not a book that I would have picked for myself - I'm not a big fantasy fan; this world's screwed up enough, why would I want to read about other screwed up worlds?

I actually stopped to look at the page number to see at which point I was totally engrossed and knew I was going to finish the book.  *Drum roll, please* Page sixteen.  In all honestly, I was hooked long before then, but it took me 'til page sixteen to drag my eyes away from the text to look at the number.  Quite a change from the prior book.

I know nothing about the author, Terry Pratchett, I wouldn't have even know how to describe his writing style, so I looked for a little help from the professional reviewers who call him a "comic novelist" and a "master of laugh-out-loud fiction".

The premise of the book is that Sam Vimes, while chasing a bad guy (a really, really bad guy), is caught in some sort of time storm and transported back in time thirty years, along with the bad guy.  He has a chance to make history turn out the "right" way and in the process, meets his younger self at a crucial point in his younger self's life.

I can tell you that this book could have been a disaster, what with traveling back in time and all, but it was masterfully written.  It's not easy to write a book without all of the time-twisting, but to be able to do it as believably as Mr. Pratchett did makes the book a work of art.

I can tell you that I will be ready many more of Mr. Pratchett's book and soon.  Thank you, K. for introducing me to a whole new genre and author.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Check It Out

Hop on over to Girls With Guns, a collaborative blog between myself and Mrs Mom.  Leave us a comment on the most recent post by midnight tonight (May 2) and be entered into our give-away.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

First Post Flashback - I've Been Tagged

Quixy at Quixotic Life tricked me into being tagged for this.  I read her whole first post and at the end, was tagged.  You know what they say about curiosity and the cat.  No problem, though, 'cause it's kind of a cool challenge.

It'll be interesting to see how far (if at all) my writing has come; if it's changed at all, if my voice has changed, etc.  I started blogging as a way to keep my family and friends in the loop.  I'd just been to Salida, CO to appear on Julie Goodnight's TV show and tried sending my story via email, but knew that I was missing people, so instead I started blogging and sent invitations to everyone.  It was so much easier.  Shortly after I got back from Salida, RCC and I got engaged and the blog continued to offer a great way to share with everyone.

I'm not going to pick out certain blogs to tag - I'd love for everyone to join in (see how upfront I am?  Not at all tricky like Quixy).  And if you still have it in you, hop on over to Tales from the Trail to see my first post there.

Warning: My first post is really long!

Horse Master with Julie Goodnight

In June, I got the unbelievable opportunity to work with Julie Goodnight on her show, "Horse Master with Julie Goodnight".  Estes, the equine love of my life, had a bit of an issue with standing still for mounting and walking off without a cue. Julie showed me how to fix it and what follows is my journal from that most amazing three days.

HorseMaster Cast:
· Julie Goodnight – Horse Master
· Heidi Nyland – Producer
· Lucy – Grip/Heidi’s “boss”
· Twyla – Grip/training assistant
· Brenda – Julie’s Office Manager
· Cheryl – Grip/Wardrobe Wrangler/Hair/Make-up
· Steve – Cameraman
· Bo – Film editing/camera assist
· Alle – Grip/Go-Fer (15 yo)
· Tara – Cosequin rep
· Linda /Stinger – came for water crossing, ended up being bad saddle fit and sore back
· Dave/? Horse – Versatility/flying lead changes

Day One  Finally got in to GTS about 5:00 pm as they were wrapping up the first day’s shooting. Met the rep from Circle Y Saddles who finally got us settled with Lucy. Unloaded Estes into an outdoor pen behind the high-dollar horses – she looked as good as or better than the others. Signed a million release forms for the show and property liability. Got my “party favors” – Dan Post socks, Circle Y t-shirt, bandana, and Troxel helmet (wow!).

Dropped the trailer at 4 Seasons RV park on the other side of Salida (GTS is closer to Poncha Springs than Salida). Really “cute” as Ash says. The bathroom/shower house was nice and well-kept (Thank God – I hate public showers). Went to dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant – Los Girasoles – where the waiter spent the night hitting on Ash. Now I know how Mom felt when we’d go to Mexico and the waiters there would hit on Nelle all the time.

The shower house, while well-kept, was much creepier after dark. All I could think about while I was taking my shower was all of the ‘80s slasher movies. Can’t say as I liked being so far away from the trailer by in a strange town all by my lonesome.

Day Two
Up and at ‘em and on the set (GTS) at 7:00 am getting my girl ready. Cheryl chose my tops to compliment Julie’s outfit (pink long sleeve and black vest) for the day’s shoot. Lucy took one look at my saddle and decided to oil it because it is so ugly. It was much prettier after it got oiled, but then the executive decision was made to put Estes in a Circle Y saddle in case Julie had to mount up. Her contract with Circle Y states that she can’t be seen in any public appearances riding in a saddle other than a Circle Y and there was a possibility that they’d have to film her working with Estes (and up on her), so Estes and I got to ride in an expensive Flex tree saddle – cool, but I’m not sure I could really tell the difference.

Shooting day really was hurry up and wait. When it was finally my time on film, I was swarmed by Cheryl, Lucy and Heidi to fix my hair under my helmet (required by one of the liability releases) and “mike up”. We went up to one of Julie’s pastures that would look “trail-like” for my “before” shot. That shot went pretty well as far as being a disaster. I couldn’t get my foot up into the stirrup, Estes danced around and almost spun away from me, we had to resort to finding a mounting block (a rock, just like I’d have to find in the mountains) before I could mount up. Finally, after much gymnastics and horse vaulting, I climbed aboard and managed to get her to stand still long enough to get both feet in the stirrups. Then for my “B” role, we stripped the saddle and found another mounting block – a tree stump this time – for my bareback mounting show. I managed to get up, but again, it was a mixture of gymnastics and horse vaulting. I could really get used to having a “crew”; the minute I was done filming, Ash and Mom would step in and take Estes to get her ready for the next shot or start fussing with my hair to make sure I was presentable. Lucy was always ready with my jacket so I wouldn’t get too cold between takes – it wasn’t too terribly bad.

The “before” shot was the easy part – then I had to do the interview. Thank god I’m used to public speaking, because the interview was a bit tough. Mostly because I had to keep reminding myself to keep it short and not say “um” – thank you speech class. The toughest part, though, was trying to make eye contact with the camera, which was less than three feet away from me. Well, that and trying to keep from getting a splinter enema from the tree stump I was sitting on. The day was going pretty well until the wind kicked up. That stupid wind! We broke, had lunch, sat around and waited for the wind to stop. In the meantime, the other two people arrived with their horses: Dave, who happens to be the President of the National Versatility Ranch Horse Association, and Linda with her horse, Stinger, who wanted to work on water crossing.

Steve, Heidi and Julie decided they could shoot some footage of Dave despite the wind, because no one needed to be miked, so Estes and I stood down and we went to watch the versatility horse. Dave really needed to work on transitions; specifically his lead changes. We stood out in the cold wind for a long while watching them film Dave and his mare do each component of a VRH competition: reining, cow work, and trail. It was pretty cool and I know that Estes can and will do all of that. We also managed to take some footage of Linda and Stinger, who entered the water like a pro, so we had to go to Plan B for Linda, which was to work on Stinger’s canter. Linda thought it was too fast and wanted him to gear down to a nice easy lope. Once we left the pond and went back to the outdoor arena, it was obvious that Linda and Stinger’s biggest problem was not the water crossing, but that he was in pain. Her saddle didn’t fit him or her well and she was practically sitting on the cantle. His head was too high and he was hollowing out his back trying to get away from the painful saddle. I can’t quite explain how he moved, but when he went into a canter he would really try hard for a couple of steps, then it would just hurt too much and he’d lift his head, hollow out his back and lock his forelegs. A couple of steps like that and he’d set to bucking – not hard – but bucking sure enough. Poor Linda kept insisting that she was trying to “communicate” with him that she wanted him to slow his canter to an easy lope. That wasn’t the problem at all. Her idea of “communicating” was more like dictating – she was telling, but not listening to what Stinger was trying to tell her, which was “ouch, ouch, ouch”.

After all of the non-verbal shooting was done, the decision was made to move to Cheryl’s indoor arena, which wasn’t ideal, but at least we could continue shooting. By this time Estes had been tied at the rail for six hours or so and was behaving beautifully. I couldn’t have asked for a better behaved horse. None of the other horses had such a long down time without being used or broken down. Since Cheryl’s place was just a quarter mile away or so, I decided to ride Estes and Mom and Ash took the truck. It wasn’t a long ride by any means, but it certainly felt good to stretch our legs. Estes was stiff from being in the trailer on the mountain passes for four hours the day before and then being tied to the rail for so long. It took a while to get the whole production moved to Cheryl’s, so once we got there, Cheryl gave Estes a stall and run to be turned out in for a bit. It was only twenty minutes or so, but between the walk and getting turned out, she started to loosen up. The light in the indoor arena wasn’t great, but at least it was even and out of the wind. We ended up using the flatbed of Mom’s truck as a base for the camera. Mom just pulled the truck up to the door of the arena, removed the rail, and Scott and Bo set up shop. It worked out great, because then they had a good overhead angle and didn’t take up any arena space, so we had more work room.

We got everyone settled, and then it was Estes’ turn again. “My” crew was busy helping the camera crew get settled, so Heidi’s crew helped me get Estes ready. They practically fell on her – Twyla was putting gel in Estes’ mane, Alle was cleaning out her eye boogers and runny nose, and Lucy was brushing out her tail. Cheryl, in the mean time, was trying to make my hair look presentable and Heidi was getting me miked up. Twyla did a final dust off of Estes and Heidi attacked my vest with a pet hair remover. In just a few minutes they had both of us looking better than we had a right to. Estes looked as good as any show horse I’d seen by the time they were done with her. And she LOVED every minute of the primping and pampering.

She put on a heck of a show for the camera again, dancing around and spinning away from me when I tried to mount up. I managed (as I always do) to get up and get her under control, but she wouldn’t stand still for Julie to talk to me, so we spent a long time circling. Then it was Julie’s turn. Julie attached a longe line to her bridle and talked me through mounting up in slow motion. The minute Estes got out of line (when she felt the weight in her stirrup), Julie sent her out on the longe and worked her. It was amazing how quickly she was able to get her foot out of the stirrup and set Estes to cantering. That’s all it took. One correction. Once Estes realized that she was going to WORK if she didn’t behave, she settled right down. It was freakin’ amazing. Julie talked me through the correction one more time and we were done other than our practice time with Twyla. During the time I was riding for Julie, Estes was acting up and playing a bit – nothing big, but enough to impress the hell out of Dave. He offered to work with me at any time on the VRH skills I’d need to compete. He seemed to think that we’d be into prizes right off the bat with just a few lessons on what was expected of her.

I rode Estes back to Julie’s, turned her out, and went back to Cheryl’s to see Julie work with Dave. I learned so much about lead changes during his session. Before, I never had a clue how to cue for a lead change, but I think, once we get Estes’ mounting issues straightened out, I’m going to start working with her on figure eights and lead changes.

Despite the fact that Estes only needed one correction from Julie to be “fixed”, I still had to practice with her, so it was back over to Julie’s at 7 pm for my practice session with Twyla. She did awesome! It only took one correction from me to get her straightened out. I mounted her from the on-side and the off-side and she never moved a muscle. So, as a final test, I had Ash mount up. Again, she never moved a muscle. It was miraculous! She stood quietly and waited for her cue to move out. A totally different horse after just a few minutes. Since she did so well in the arena, I stripped her saddle, took her out of the arena and mounted her bareback. Twyla was shocked at how well she did bareback (me, too). Finally, by 8:00 we were done with our day. Hallelujah!

Day Three 
Last day! Kind of bitter sweet. I’m so thrilled with Estes’ progress and so proud of her. She won everyone over with her easy-going personality and her intelligence. Even Julie was surprised that it only took one correction from each of us to change 18 years of training.

6:00 am we were on set and getting ready; Cheryl was digging through my clothes to find the perfect complement to Julie’s outfit and “my crew” was getting Estes ready – I really could get used to this. A quick breakfast in the Bunkhouse and it was hurry up and wait again. Mom walked Estes up and down the yard for a long while to warm her up so she wouldn’t be shivering on camera, and then I rode her around a bit – no standing on the rail for my baby today. Finally we were called to the set for our “after” clips with Julie. Estes stood like a champ for me to mount up in the arena so we moved out to the field to give her her “Final Exam” for Julie. She did the first take perfectly, but Heidi wasn’t happy with the ending, so we had to do it again. By that time, Estes was done playing and because we didn’t have the longe line attached, we couldn’t correct her and we managed to undo the training we did the day before, but it’s still fixable. We knew we’d have a set back now and then, so I’m not too disappointed.

Julie then used Estes for her “Quick Tip” for the episode – where to stand and how to hold the stirrup to help reduce the chance of the horse walking off. And, just like that, our TV stint was done! It felt good to get loaded up and get on our way, but it was hard to leave the crew – everyone was so nice and went out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable.